National History Day Announces Teachers Selected for World War II-focused Professional Development Program in southern France and Italy.

Teachers help students understand the sacrifices of World War II through the story of one forgotten hero.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today National History Day (NHD) announced the 18 middle and high school educators selected to participate in Understanding Sacrifice, a highly competitive, year-long professional development program sponsored by the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC). During this program teachers learn about America’s involvement during World War II in the Mediterranean region. To drive home a deeper understanding of the personal sacrifice experienced at the front lines, each teacher will select one American service member who is buried or memorialized at an ABMC cemetery in southern Europe or North Africa. Teachers then spend a year conducting in-depth research on the life of this fallen hero using both local and archival historical resources. Throughout the program, teachers attend lectures, study historical books about the conflict, and collaborate with staff at National History Day to begin forming ideas for lesson plans from their experience.

The program concludes with an expedition across southern France and Italy to visit the battlefields and memorials of their selected hero. Each participant presents a eulogy at the grave or memorial of their service member. Upon returning home, the teachers use their research and experience to create a lesson plan to reinvigorate World War II education in American classrooms. The created lesson plans will be made available to teachers worldwide through a website created by the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University.

“National History Day wants students to connect with the past and one of the primary points of contact with students is their teachers,” said NHD Executive Director Dr. Cathy Gorn. “This partnership with the ABMC offers us the chance to provide life changing experiences to teachers who can then take that experience to the classroom. Through their research and experiences they learn incredible lessons that they can then share with teachers and students around the country, ultimately leading to a more engaging and effective study of history.”

The following teachers have been chosen from 118 applicants for this competitive program.

Teacher: Michele Anderson
School: John Glenn High School
City/State: Westland, Michigan

Teacher: Raymond Brookter
School: Laurel High School
City/State: Laurel, Mississippi

Teacher: Alison Browning
School: J.P. McCaskey High School Campus
City/State: Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Teacher: Kathy Tucker Carroll
School: St. John's Episcopal School
City/State: Dallas, Texas

Teacher: Elizabeth Erin Coggins
School: Sparkman High
City/State: Madison, Alabama

Teacher: Jim Goodspeed
School: Fulton Public Schools
City/State: Middleton, Michigan

Teacher: Shane Gower
School: Maranacook Community High School
City/State: Readfield, Maine

Teacher: Cary Lee House
School: Anderson High School
City/State: Anderson, Indiana

Teacher: Kyle Johnson
School: Seaman Middle School
City/State: Topeka, Kansas

Teacher: Bradley Liebrecht
School: West Valley Junior High School
City/State: Yakima, Washington

Teacher: Christina O'Connor
School: Hingham High School
City/State: Hingham, Massachusetts

Teacher: Matthew Poth
School: Park View High School
City/State: Sterling Virginia

Teacher: Amanda Reid-Cossentino
School: Garnet Valley High School
City/State: Glen Mills, Pennsylvania

Teacher: Jamie Sawatzky
School: Rocky Run Middle School
City/State: Chantilly, Virginia

Teacher: Judy Schechter
School: Lexington School for the Deaf East
City/State: Elmhurst, New York

Teacher: Jarred Stewart
School: JJ Pearce High School
City/State: Richardson, Texas

Teacher: Ine Marion Touzel
School: Ocean Bay Middle School
City/State: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Teacher: Al Wheat
School: Olde Towne Middle School
City/State: Ridgeland, Mississippi

The lesson plans teachers develop will make use of the extensive educational and interpretive materials of the ABMC. The plans also will comply with Common Core Standards and will be free to access online at

About National History Day
NHD is a non-profit education organization in College Park, MD. Established in 1974, NHD offers year-long academic programs that engage over half a million middle- and high-school students around the world annually in conducting original research on historical topics of interest. These research-based projects are entered into contests at the local and affiliate levels, where the top student projects have the opportunity to advance to the National Contest at the University of Maryland at College Park. NHD also seeks to improve the quality of history education by providing professional development opportunities and curriculum materials for educators. NHD is sponsored in part by Kenneth E. Behring, Patricia Behring, HISTORY®, Jostens, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Park Service, Southwest Airlines, the Joe Weider Foundation, and the WEM 2000 Foundation of the Dorsey & Whitney Foundation. For more information, visit

Lynne O'Hara
Director of Programs
Phone: 484-919-2595
Press Release